I’m not a financial guru and I don’t have a crystal ball….but I do know what’s happening in my local Real Estate market in Central Oregon, and especially Bend. I’ll give you my viewpoint and the main reasons I don’t think prices in Central Oregon are going down anytime soon.
Housing in Bend is about twice the national average….other large cities are 3 or 4 times the national average, IE: San Francisco, Los Angeles, etc… However, those large cities usually have jobs that pay high salaries making it possible to afford those higher home prices.
Homes feel “expensive” in Bend for most people who make an “average income”, which according to the US Census Data is approx. $65,000 (that would take one full-time worker making $31/per hour or 2 workers making $15.50) When buying a home, the Lender wants your DTI (debt to income) ratio to be no higher than 40% (this is ALL DEBT, car loan, student loans, credit cards, etc, not just your home loan). That would be about $2,165/mo for ALL YOUR DEBT. With Bend’s median Single-Family home price at $650k for May 2021, those numbers just don’t cut it for a house payment, even with 20% down! With taxes and insurance thrown in….a $650k home w/20% down would cost you at least $2,500/mo.
SUPPLY VS DEMAND CRISIS
Basic supply and demand rules apply to the housing market. Yes, there are other factors such as the broader economy, inflation, employment, the pandemic and the “uncertainty” that it causes….and more.
BIGGEST FACTOR PUSHING PRICES HIGHER
The biggest contributor to our current housing crisis are the supply and demand factors.
Low supply makes prices go up and bidding wars begin. It creates the situation where many buyers are competing over just a few homes. Bend’s inventory of homes has been dropping since its high point back in 2007 before everything crashed due to insolvent loans. By 2013 all of that extra inventory had been gobbled up and with the exception of a slight rise in homes for sale in 2014, our inventory has been on a downhill slide ever since. And then the Pandemic hit and everything stopped for several months, including building and buying and selling homes. Then in June of 2020 our sales skyrocketed and devoured the few homes that we still had on the market.
If you look at Bend’s population growth over the past 20 years you’ll understand that the demand for homes is not anything new! Oregon’s population has doubled over the past 20 years. Salem, a similar sized city and the Capitol of Oregon, has grown 25% since 2000 by comparison.
In the past, Bend’s steady growth was mainly due to people wanting to live an “outdoor lifestyle”. They happily accepted lower paying jobs in order to have the option of living in this beautiful place. My husband and I did exactly that when in 2015 we quit our full-time jobs in the Seattle area and made the leap into the unknown realm of self-employment in a small town. To us the risk was worth the potential gains, because we were tired of the hassles of big city life and wanted a slower paced life and a more friendly, relaxed lifestyle, which we found in Bend during our many visits here.
In 2020 when the pandemic hit and many employers began approving full-time work from home or remote working options, that was like pouring gasoline on an already blazing fire!
As Bend’s employment base has grown and the pandemic fuels the remote workforce, demand for housing just keeps going up and as you know, when demand goes up and there’s a very limited supply….PRICES GO UP!
WHY A SHORTAGE OF HOMES IN BEND
In order to build more homes, Oregon cities have to get approval for their growth plan from the Department of Land Conservation and Development. The reason for this oversight is to prevent urban sprawl from taking over agricultural lands. Building can only happen inside the Urban Growth Boundary. In 2016 the last UGB was approved and land was added, but it takes years for that land to be purchased, developed and for homes to be built. A good example is the track of land in NE Bend that Pahlisch Homes is just now building on, the development is called Petrosa and will begin selling homes in the Summer of 2021. This land was added in 2016, but is only now, 5 years later, begin built on. It takes time to build a large community like this, permits, infrastructure, etc…the next UGB expansion will be in 2028.
SHORTAGE OF WORKERS
Workers are in short supply, laborers to do the actually building, electrical and plumbing. In the last big recession, may laborers quit and took other jobs because homes were not being built. They left the area for greener pastures, changed industries or retired. We still haven’t caught up hiring enough workers to build the homes that are needed.
SHORTAGE OF WORKERS
On top of the above reasons, add in the 300% rise in Lumber prices (and other supplies, appliances, etc) and the homes being built are much more expensive than originally anticipated!
UNCERTAINTY AND FEAR
The global pandemic has brought so much fear and uncertainty to so many areas of life. Many would-be sellers decided to refinance due to low mortgage rates, in addition to the fear and uncertainty, further limiting the inventory of homes.
I see the next few years looking pretty similar to 2020 – 2021. Rising prices, high demand and low supply. Maybe with some relief from the Pandemic, some home owners will decide to sell, but keep in mind that if they refinanced, that cost them some $$$ and they may decide to stay put a few years until they can recoup the cost of refinancing their home loan. The experts are not foreseeing a large influx of foreclosures hitting the market because most home owners who took advantage of forbearance on their mortgage payments have caught up.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR BUYERS
What does this mean if you want to move to Bend or buy a home in Bend?
1. Do your homework, talk to a local lender (I can refer you to some great ones!)
2. Get your budget and credit rating in as good of shape as you can
3. Save for the downpayment, closing and moving costs.
4. Don’t forget to also keep your “back up” savings account full because you just never know what life is going to throw at you! Hopefully not another Pandemic, but you just never know.
So, should you buy a home now? That depends a lot on your financial situation, but I’d say it’s better to get a home while you can and hold onto it and gain the appreciation. Waiting and trying to “time” the housing market is like trying to “time” the stock market. Investment advisors always tell you to invest consistently over time and let your nest egg grow. The same is true with Real Estate, it’s a LONG-TERM game. There’s not usually a quick profit to be made, so invest in a home that fits your budget and stay put. If you plan on living in the home for 5 to 7 years GO FOR IT! If you wait, you might be priced out of the market all together.
I’ve been guiding many clients through this crazy pandemic real estate market and I’d be happy to help you as well! Click the link below for a copy of The Bend Relocation Guide…or just pick up the phone and call me! I’d love to chat with you and help get you on the track to being a home owner in Bend, or anywhere in Central Oregon!